The name Czechoslovakia is used to identify:
- Czechoslovakia (1918-93) Československo / Česko-Slovensko:
- Czechoslovak Republic (1918-38) Československá republika
First Czechoslovak Republic: Parliamentary Republic
- Czecho-Slovak Republic (1938-39) Česko-Slovenská republika
Second Czechoslovak Republic: Parliamentary Republic
- Nazi Occupation (March 15, 1939-1945) Německá okupace Čech, Moravy a Slezska:
Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile [Republic] Prozatímní státní zřízení
Protectorate of Bohemia & Moravia [Protectorate] Protektorát Čechy a Morava
Sudetenland [Socialist One-Party Totalitarian Dictatorship] Sudety
Slovak Republic [Nazi Client State] Slovenská republika
Annexation of Southern Slovakia and Subcarpathia [Republic] Zakarpattia Oblast
- Czechoslovak Republic (1945-1948) Československá republika
Third Czechoslovak Republic: Parliamentary Republic
- Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1948-60) Československá socialistická republika
Fourth Czechoslovak Republic: Unitary People's Republic
*Satellite State of the Soviet Union
- Communist Occupation (1960-89) Komunistická strana Československa
Unitary Marxist-Leninist One-Party Socialist State (1960-69) [Communist Oligarchy]
Federal Marxist-Leninist One-Party Socialist State (1969-89) [Federal Communist Oligarchy]
• Czech Socialist Republic (1960-90) Česká socialistická republika
• Slovak Socialist Republic (1960-90) Slovenská socialistická republika
- Czech & Slovak Federative Republic (1989-93) Česká a Slovenská Federativní Republika
Fifth Czechoslovak Republic: Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Republic
• Czech Republic (1990-92) Česká republika
• Slovak Republic (1990-92) Slovenská republika
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia /ˌtʃɛkoʊsloʊˈvækiə, -kə-, -slə-, -ˈvɑː-/ (Czech and Slovak: Československo, Česko-Slovensko) was a sovereign republic in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic on January 1, 1993.
From 1939 to 1945, following its forced division and partial incorporation into Nazi Germany, the republic did not de facto exist but its government-in-exile continued to operate.
From 1948 to 1990, Czechoslovakia was part of the Soviet bloc with a command economy. Its economic status was formalized in membership of Comecon from 1949, and its defense status in the Warsaw Pact of May 1955. A period of political liberalization in 1968, known as the Prague Spring, was forcibly ended when the Soviet Union, assisted by several other Warsaw Pact countries, invaded. In 1989, as Marxist–Leninist governments and communism were ending all over Europe, Czechoslovaks peacefully deposed their government in the Velvet Revolution; state price controls were removed after a period of preparation. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the 2 sovereign republics of the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.
The Czechoslovak Legion (Československé legie in Czech, Československé légie in Slovak) or Czech legion were volunteer armed forces composed predominantly of Czechs with a small number of Slovaks (approximately 8%) fighting together with the Entente powers during World War I. The name "Czechoslovak" originated after the war. Their goal was to win the Allies' support for the independence of Bohemia and Moravia from the Austrian Empire and of Slovak territories from the Kingdom of Hungary, which were then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the help of émigré intellectuals and politicians such as the Czech Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and the Slovak Milan Rastislav Štefánik, they grew into a force of over a 100,000.
In Russia, they took part in several battles of the war, including the Zborov and Bakhmach against the Central Powers, and were heavily involved in the Russian Civil War fighting Bolsheviks, at times controlling the entire Trans-Siberian railway and several major cities in Siberia.
After 3 years of existence as a small unit in the Imperial Russian Army, the Legion in Russia was established in 1917, with other troops fighting in France since the beginning of the war as the "Nazdar" company, and similar units later emerging in Italy and Serbia. Originally an all-volunteer force, these formations were later strengthened by Czech and Slovak prisoners of war or deserters from the Austro-Hungarian Army. The majority of the legionaries were Czechs, with Slovaks making up 7.4% of the force in Russia, 3% in Italy and 16% in France.
As World War I broke out, national societies representing ethnic Czechs and Slovaks residing in the Russian Empire petitioned the Russian government to support the independence of their homelands. To prove their loyalty to the Entente cause, these groups advocated the establishment of a unit of Czech and Slovak volunteers to fight alongside the Russian Army.
On 5 August 1914, the Russian Stavka authorized the formation of a battalion recruited from Czechs and Slovaks in Russia. This unit, called the "Czech Companions" (Česká družina or Družina), went to the front in October 1914, where it was attached to the Russian Third Army. There the Družina soldiers served in scattered patrols performing a number of specialized duties, including reconnaissance, prisoner interrogation and subversion of enemy troops in the opposite trenches.
From its start, Czech and Slovak political émigrés in Russia and Western Europe desired to expand the Družina from a battalion into a formidable military formation. To achieve this goal, however, they recognized that they would need to recruit from Czech and Slovak prisoners of war (POWs) in Russian camps. In late 1914, Russian military authorities permitted the Družina to enlist Czech and Slovak POWs from the Austro-Hungarian Army, but this order was rescinded after only a few weeks due to opposition from other branches of the Russian government. Despite continuous efforts of émigré leaders to persuade the Russian authorities to change their mind, the Czechs and Slovaks were officially barred from recruiting POWs until the summer of 1917. Still, some Czechs and Slovaks were able to sidestep this ban by enlisting POWs through local agreements with Russian military authorities.
Under these conditions, the Czechoslovak unit in Russia grew very slowly from 1914–1917. In early 1916, the Družina was reorganized as the 1st Czecho-Slovak Rifle Regiment. During that year, two more infantry regiments were added, creating the Czechoslovak Rifle Brigade (Československá střelecká brigáda). This unit distinguished itself during the Kerensky Offensive in July 1917, when the Czecho-Slovak troops overran Austrian trenches during the Battle of Zborov.
Following the soldiers’ stellar performance at Zborov, the Russian Provisional Government finally granted their émigré leaders on the Czechoslovak National Council permission to mobilize Czech and Slovak volunteers from the POW camps. Later that summer, a fourth regiment was added to the brigade, which was renamed the First Division of the Czechoslovak Corps in Russia (Československý sbor na Rusi), also known as the Czechoslovak Legion (Československá legie) in Russia. A second division, consisting of four regiments, was added to the Legion in October 1917, raising its strength to about 40,000 troops by 1918.
Czechoslovak Legion in France
Enrollment of Czechoslovak volunteers in the French Foreign Legion started in Paris on August 21, 1914. August 31 marked the creation of the 1st Company, Battalion C of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Foreign Legion in Bayonne. Meeting in the city, the soldiers greeted each other with "Na zdar!" (a greeting used by members of the Sokol movement) and hence came to be called "Nazdar!" Company ("rota Nazdar" in Czech). The company was part of the French army's Moroccan division, and took part in heavy combat during assaults near Arras on May 9 and June 16, 1915, where it suffered heavy casualties. Because of these, Battalion C, including as "Nazdar!" Company, was disbanded, and volunteers continued to fight in various French army and Foreign Legion units.
An autonomous Czechoslovak army was established from 19 December 1917 by decree of the French government. On 12 January 1918 the 21st Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was formed in the town of Cognac. It fought as part of the French 53rd Infantry Division. On 20 May 1918 the 22nd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was created, initially fighting as part of the French 134th Infantry Division. On June 29 the government of France officially acknowledged the right of Czech and Slovaks to independence, and the next day both regiments took an oath of allegiance in presence of the French president, Raymond Poincaré, as well as Czechoslovak independence movement officials, including Edvard Beneš. Today, June 30 is celebrated as the "Day of Czech Armed Forces".
In 1918 a Czechoslovak brigade, under command of the French general Philippe, consisting of the 21st and 22nd Rifle regiments, was formed in France, and saw combat near Vouziers. The brigade returned home in the autumn of 1918. It had about 9,600 soldiers. 650 Czech and Slovak legionnaires died in France during World War I.
Czechoslovak Legion in Italy
The Czechoslovak Italian Legion was a legion of Czechoslovak volunteers formed late in World War I. The first Czechoslovak formation was the Czechoslovak Volunteers Group (Czech: Československý dobrovolnický sbor) formed in Padua in early 1918. However, the origins of this group were in Italian prisoner-of-war camps. In January 1918, the headquarters of the 6th Italian Army finally agreed to form reconnaissance squadrons from Czechoslovak and Southern Slav volunteers. In September 1918, the 39th Regiment of the Czechoslovak Italian Legion was formed from those volunteer reconnaissance squadrons.
The Czechoslovak Italian Legion formed two divisions: VI. Division, which included 31st, 32nd, and 35th Regiments; and VII. Division, which included 33rd, 34th, and 39th Regiments. Their total strength was around 25,000 men. The Czechoslovak Italian Legion was commanded by General Andrea Graziani and later by General Piccione. After the war, the Legion was repatriated to Czechoslovakia in 1919 and most went to Slovakia.
Carpathian Ruthenia, Carpatho-Ukraine, or Zakarpattia (Slovak and Czech: Podkarpatská Rus) is a historic region in Central Europe, mostly located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast, with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia (largely in Prešov Region and Košice Region) and Poland's Lemkovyna. Before World War I most of this region was part of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. In the interwar period, it was part of the First and Second Czechoslovak Republic. During World War II, the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary once again. After the war, it became part of Soviet Ukraine.
It is an ethnically diverse region, inhabited by Ukrainian, Rusyn, Lemko, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, Bulgarian and Russian populations. It also has small Hutsul, Jewish, Romani, Szekler and Csango minorities.
After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed and the region was briefly (in 1918 and 1919) claimed as part of the independent West Ukraine Republic. However, the region was, for most of this period controlled by the newly formed independent Hungarian Democratic Republic, with a short period of West Ukrainian control.
On November 8, 1918, the first National Council (the Lubovňa Council, which was later reconvened as the Prešov Council) was held in western Ruthenia. The first of many councils, it simply stated the desire of its members to separate from newly formed Hungarian state, but did not specify a particular alternative — only that it must involve the right to self-determination.
Over the next months, councils met every few weeks, calling for various solutions. Some wanted to remain part of Hungarian state but with greater autonomy; the most notable of these, the Uzhhorod Council (November 9, 1918), declared itself the representative of the Rusyn people and began negotiations with Hungarian authorities, resulting in the adoption of Law no. 10, making four of the Rusyn counties autonomous. Other councils, such as the Carpatho-Ruthenian National Council meetings in Khust (November 1918), called for unification with a Ukrainian state. It was only in early January 1919 that the first calls were heard in Ruthenia for union with Czechoslovakia.
Prior to this, in July 1918, Rusyn immigrants in the United States had convened and called for complete independence. Failing that, they would try to unite with Galicia and Bukovyna; and failing that, they would demand autonomy, though they did not specify under which state. They approached the American government and were told that the only viable option was unification with Czechoslovakia. Their leader, Gregory Zatkovich, then signed the "Philadelphia Agreement" with Czechoslovak President Tomáš Masaryk, guaranteeing Rusyn autonomy upon unification with Czechoslovakia. A referendum was held among American Rusyn parishes, with a resulting 67% in favor. Another 28% voted for union with Ukraine, and less than 1% each for Galicia, Hungary and Russia. Less than 2% desired complete independence.
In April 1919, Czechoslovak control on the ground was established, when Czechoslovak troops acting in coordination with Romanian forces arriving from the east - both acting under French auspices - entered the area. In a series of battles they defeated and crushed the local militias of the newly formed Hungarian Soviet Republic, whose proclaimed aim was to "unite the Hungarian, Rusyn and Jewish toilers against the exploiters of the same nationalities". Communist sympathizers accused the Czechoslovaks and Romanians of atrocities, such as public hangings and the clubbing to death of wounded prisoners.
This fighting prevented the arrival of Soviet aid, for which the Hungarian Communists hoped in vain; the Bolsheviks were also too preoccupied with their own civil war to assist.
Transcarpathia, as well as a broader region, was occupied by Romania from April 1919 until July or August 1919, and then was again occupied by Hungarian state.
In May 1919, a Central National Council convened in the United States under Zatkovich and voted unanimously to accept the admission of Carpathian Ruthenia to Czechoslovakia. Back in Ruthenia, on May 8, 1919, a general meeting of representatives from all the previous councils was held, and declared that "The Central Russian National Council... completely endorse the decision of the American Uhro-Rusin Council to unite with the Czech-Slovak nation on the basis of full national autonomy." Note that the Central Russian National Council was an offshoot of the Central Ruthenian National Council and represented a Carpathian branch of the Russophiles movement that existed in the Austrian Galicia.
After the Paris Peace Conference, Transcarpathia became part of Czechoslovakia. Whether this was widely popular among the mainly peasant population, is debatable; clearly, however, what mattered most to Ruthenians was not which country they would join, but that they be granted autonomy within it. After their experience of Magyarization, few Carpathian Rusyns were eager to remain under Hungarian rule, and they desired to ensure self-determination. According to the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920, the former region of Kingdom of Hungary, Ruthenian Land (Ruszka Krajna), was officially renamed into Subcarpathian Ruthenia (Podkarpatská Rus).
In 1928, Czechoslovakia was divided into four provinces and one of them was Sub-Carpathian Rus. In the period 1918-1938 the Czechoslovak government decided to bring the very undeveloped region (70% of population illiterate, no industry, herdsman way of life) to the level of Czechoslovakia. Thousands of Czech teachers, policemen, clerks and businessmen went to the region. The Czechoslovak government used a lot of money to build thousands of kilometres of railways, roads, airports, hundreds of schools and residential buildings.
End of World War I & Woodrow "Wilsonova"
With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia (Czech, Slovak: Československo) was formed as a result of the critical intervention of the USA & President Woodrow Wilson, among others. President Wilson signed the Aldrich Act in 1913 creating the 3rd communist central bank in America (the Federal Reserve); his primary advisor was a staunch communist who controlled American presidents like puppets until WW2, and the council he created still manipulates the media as well as politicians regardless of party.
In 1916, during World War I, Tomáš Masaryk created the Czechoslovak National Council together with Edvard Beneš and Milan Štefánik (a Slovak astronomer and war hero). Masaryk in the United States, Štefánik in France, and Beneš in France and Britain worked tirelessly to secure Allied recognition. About 1.4 million Czech soldiers fought in World War I, 150,000 of whom died.
More than 90,000 Czech and Slovak volunteers formed the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia, France and Italy, where they fought against the Central Powers and later with White Russian forces against Bolshevik troops. At times they controlled much of the Trans-Siberian railway, and they were indirectly involved in the shooting of the Russian tsar and his family in 1918. Their goal was to win the support of the Allies for the independence of Czechoslovakia. They succeeded on all counts. When secret talks between the Allies and Austrian emperor Charles I (r. 1916–18) collapsed, the Allies recognized, in the summer of 1918, the Czechoslovak National Council would be the kernel of the future Czechoslovak government.
Evacuation from Bolshevik Russia
In November 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power throughout Russia and soon began peace negotiations with the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk. The chairman of the Czechoslovak National Council, Tomáš Masaryk, who had arrived in Russia earlier that year, began planning for the Legion’s departure from Russia and transfer to France so the Czechoslovaks could continue to fight against the Central Powers. Since most of Russia’s main ports were blockaded, Masaryk decided that the Legion should travel from Ukraine to the Pacific port of Vladivostok, where the men would embark on transport vessels that would carry them to Western Europe. In February 1918, Bolshevik authorities in Ukraine granted Masaryk and his troops permission to begin the 6,000 miles (9,700 km) journey to Vladivostok. However, on 18 February, before the Czechoslovaks had left Ukraine, the German Army launched Operation Faustschlag (fist strike) on the Eastern Front to force the Soviet government to accept its terms for peace. From 5 to 13 March, the Czechoslovak legionaries successfully fought off German attempts to prevent their evacuation in the Battle of Bakhmach.
After leaving Ukraine and entering Soviet Russia, representatives of the Czechoslovak National Council continued to negotiate with Bolshevik authorities in Moscow and Penza to iron out the details of the corps’ evacuation. On 25 March, the two sides signed the Penza Agreement, in which the legionaries were to surrender most of their weapons in exchange for unmolested passage to Vladivostok. Tensions continued to mount, however, as each side distrusted the other. The Bolsheviks, despite Masaryk's order for the legionaries to remain neutral in Russia's affairs, suspected that the Czechoslovaks might join their counterrevolutionary enemies in the borderlands. Meanwhile, the legionaries were wary of Czechoslovak Communists who were trying to subvert the corps. They also suspected that the Bolsheviks were being pressured by the Central Powers to stall their movement towards Vladivostok.
By May 1918, the Czechoslovak Legion was strung out along the Trans-Siberian Railway from Penza to Vladivostok. Their evacuation was proving much slower than expected due to dilapidated railway conditions, a shortage of locomotives and the recurring need to negotiate with local soviets along the route. On 14 May, a dispute at the Chelyabinsk station between legionaries heading east and Magyar POWs heading west to be repatriated caused the People’s Commissar for War, Leon Trotsky, to order the complete disarmament and arrest of the legionaries. At an army congress that convened in Chelyabinsk a few days later, the Czechoslovaks – against the wishes of the National Council – refused to disarm and began issuing ultimatums for their passage to Vladivostok. This incident sparked the Revolt of the Legions.
Fighting between the Czechoslovak Legion and the Bolsheviks erupted at several points along the Trans-Siberian Railway in the last days of May 1918. By June, the two sides were fighting along the railway route from Penza to Krasnoyarsk. By the end of the month, legionaries under General Mikhail Diterikhs had taken control of Vladivostok, overthrowing the local Bolshevik administration. On July 6, the Legion declared the city to be an Allied protectorate, and legionaires began returning back across the Trans-Siberian Railway to support their comrades fighting to their west. Generally, the Czechoslovaks were the victors in their early engagements against the fledging Red Army.
By mid-July, the legionaries had seized control of the railway from Samara to Irkutsk, and by the beginning of September they had cleared Bolshevik forces from the entire length of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Legionnaires conquered all the large cities of Siberia, including Yekaterinburg, but Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed on the direct orders of Vladimir Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov less than a week before the arrival of the Legion.
Creation of Czechoslovakia
The creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 was the culmination of a struggle for ethnic identity and self-determination that had simmered within the multi-national empire ruled by the Austrian Habsburg family in the 19th century. The Czechs had lived primarily in Bohemia since the 6th century, and German immigrants had settled the Bohemian periphery since the 13th century. After 1526, Bohemia came under the control of the House of Habsburg as their scions first became the elected rulers of Bohemia, then the hereditary rulers of the country. Following the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, the Kingdom of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg monarchy as one of its three principal parts, alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. With the rise of nationalist political and cultural movements in the Czech lands (the Czech National Revival) and the Slovak lands (the Slovak National Revival instigated by Ľudovít Štúr), mounting ethnic tensions combined with repressive religious and ethnic policies (such as the forced Magyarization of Slovaks) pushed the cohesion of the multi-national Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled by the Habsburgs to the breaking point.
The First Republic (1918–1938)
The first Czechoslovak Republic (Czech / Slovak: Československá republika) was the Czechoslovak state that existed from 1918 to 1938. The state was commonly called Czechoslovakia (Československo). It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia, Slovakia, and Subcarpathian Ruthenia. After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only free REPUBLIC in eastern Central Europe. Under pressure from its Sudeten German minority, supported by neighboring Nazi Germany, Czechoslovakia was forced to cede its Sudetenland region to Germany on 1 October 1938 as part of the Munich Agreement. It also ceded southern parts of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia to Hungary and the Zaolzie region in Silesia to Poland. This, in effect, ended the First Czechoslovak Republic. It was replaced by Second Czechoslovak Republic, which lasted less than half a year before Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.
The independence of Czechoslovakia was officially proclaimed in Prague on 28 October 1918 in Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, a physical setting strongly associated with nationalist feeling. The Slovaks officially joined the state 2 days later in the town of Martin. A temporary constitution was adopted, and Tomáš Masaryk was declared president on 14 November. The Treaty of St. Germain, signed in September 1919, formally recognized the new republic. Ruthenia was later added to the Czech lands and Slovakia by the Treaty of Trianon in June 1920. There were also various border conflicts between Poland and Czechoslovakia due to the anexion of Zaolzie region.
The new state was characterized by problems with its ethnic diversity, the separate histories of the Czech and Slovak peoples and their greatly differing religious, cultural, and social traditions. The Germans and Magyars (Hungarians) of Czechoslovakia openly agitated against the territorial settlements. Nevertheless, the new republic saw the passage of a number of progressive reforms in areas such as housing, social security, and workers’ rights.
The new nation had a population of over 13.5 million and found itself in control of 70 to 80% of all the industry of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, which gave it the status of one of the world's ten most industrialized countries. Still, the Czech lands were far more industrialized than Slovakia. Most light and heavy industry was located in the German-dominated Sudetenland and most industrial concerns there were controlled by Germans and German-owned banks. Subcarpathian Ruthenia was essentially without industry. In 1929, the gross domestic product increased by 52% and industrial production by 41% as compared to 1913. In 1938, Czechoslovakia held 10th place in the world for industrial production.
The Czechoslovak state was conceived as a parliamentary REPUBLIC (not a 'democracy' nor empire / "reich"). The constitution identified the "Czechoslovak nation" as the creator and principal constituent of the Czechoslovak state and established Czech and Slovak as official languages. The concept of the Czechoslovak nation was necessary in order to justify the establishment of Czechoslovakia before the world, otherwise the statistical majority of the Czechs as compared to Germans would be rather weak.
The operation of the new Czechoslovak government was distinguished by its political stability. Largely responsible for this were the well-organized political parties that emerged as the real centers of power. After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only free republc in central and eastern Europe.
The Second Republic (1938–1939)
The Second Czechoslovak Republic (Czech / Slovak: Česko-Slovenská republika), sometimes also called the Czech-Slovak Republic, existed for 169 days, between 30 September 1938 and 15 March 1939. It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and the autonomous regions of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia, the latter renamed as of 22 November 1938 as Carpathian Ukraine (Karpatská Ukrajina in Czech).
The Second Republic was the result of the events following the Munich Agreement, where Czechoslovakia was forced to cede the German-populated Sudetenland region to Germany on October 1, 1938, as well as southern parts of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia to Hungary. After the Munich Agreement and the German government made clear to foreign diplomats that Czechoslovakia was now a German client state, the Czechoslovak government attempted to curry favor with Germany by banning the country's Communist Party, suspending all Jewish teachers in German educational institutes in Czechoslovakia, and enacted a law to allow the state to take over Jewish companies. In addition, the government allowed the country's banks to effectively come under German-Czechoslovak control.
The Czechoslovak Republic was dissolved when Germany invaded it on 15 March 1939 and annexed the Czech region into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. On the same day as the German occupation, the President of Czechoslovakia, Emil Hácha was appointed by the German government as the State President of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia which he held throughout the war.
Although Czechoslovakia was the only central European country to remain a parliamentary REPUBLIC during the entire period 1918 to 1938, it faced problems with ethnic minorities such as Hungarians, Poles and Sudeten Germans, the most important of which was the country's large German population. The Germans constituted 3 to 3.5 million out of 14 million of the interwar population of Czechoslovakia and were largely concentrated in the Bohemian and Moravian border regions known as the Sudetenland in German. Some members of this minority, which was predominantly sympathetic to Germany, attempted to undermine the new Czechoslovak state.
Adolf Hitler's rise in Nazi Germany in 1933; the German annexation (Anschluss) of Austria in 1938; the resulting revival of revisionism in Hungary; the agitation for autonomy in Slovakia; and the appeasement policy of the Western powers of France and the United Kingdom left Czechoslovakia without effective allies. exposed to hostile Germany and Hungary on three sides and to unsympathetic Poland on the north.
After the acquisition of Austria, Czechoslovakia was to become Hitler's next target. The German nationalist minority in Czechoslovakia, led by Konrad Henlein and fervently backed by Hitler, demanded a union of the predominantly German districts of the country with Germany. On 17 September 1938 Hitler ordered the establishment of Sudetendeutsches Freikorps, a paramilitary organization that took over the structure of Ordnersgruppe, an organization of ethnic-Germans in Czechoslovakia that had been dissolved by the Czechoslovak authorities the previous day due to its implication in large number of terrorist activities. The organization was sheltered, trained and equipped by German authorities and conducting cross border terrorist operations into Czechoslovak territory. Relying on the Convention for the Definition of Aggression, Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš and the government-in-exile later regarded 17 September 1938 as the beginning of the undeclared German-Czechoslovak war. This understanding has been assumed also by the contemporary Czech Constitutional court.
Hitler extorted the cession of the Bohemian, Moravian and Czech Silesian borderlands through the Munich Agreement on 29 September 1938 signed by Germany, Italy, France, and Britain. The Czech population in the annexed lands was to be forcibly expelled.
Finding itself abandoned by the Western powers, the Czechoslovak government agreed to abide by the agreement. Beneš resigned as president of the Czechoslovak Republic on 5 October 1938, fled to London and was succeeded by Emil Hácha. In early November 1938, under the First Vienna Award, a result of the Munich agreement, Czechoslovakia (and later Slovakia) was forced by Germany and Italy to cede southern Slovakia (one third of Slovak territory) to Hungary. After an ultimatum on 30 September (but without consulting with any other countries), Poland obtained the disputed Zaolzie region as a territorial cession shortly after the Munich Agreement, on 2 October. The ultimatum was only sent after Czech request.
The Czechs in the greatly weakened Czechoslovak Republic were forced to grant major concessions to the non-Czechs resident in the country. The executive committee of the Slovak People's Party met at Žilina on 5 October 1938, and with the acquiescence of all Slovak parties except the Social Democrats formed an autonomous Slovak government under Jozef Tiso. Similarly, the two major factions in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, the Russophiles and Ukrainophiles, agreed on the establishment of an autonomous government that was constituted on 8 October 1938. In late November 1938, the truncated state, renamed Czecho-Slovakia (the so-called "Second Republic"), was reconstituted in 3 autonomous units: the Czech lands (i.e. Bohemia and Moravia), Slovakia, and Ruthenia.
On 14 March 1939, the Slovak State declared its independence as a satellite state under Jozef Tiso. Hitler forced Hácha to surrender what remained of Bohemia and Moravia to German control on 15 March 1939, establishing the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. On the same day, the Carpatho-Ukraine (Subcarpathian Ruthenia) declared its independence and was immediately invaded and annexed by Hungary. Finally, on 23 March, Hungary invaded and occupied some further parts of eastern Slovakia from Carpatho-Ukraine.
World War II: German Occupation
The German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945) began with the German annexation of Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, formerly being part of German-Austria known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. German leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this action was the alleged privations suffered by the ethnic German population living in those regions. New and extensive Czechoslovak border fortifications were also located in the same area.
Following the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany, in March 1938, the conquest of Czechoslovakia became Hitler's next ambition. The incorporation of the Sudetenland into Germany that began on 1 October 1938 left the rest of Czechoslovakia weak, and it became powerless to resist subsequent occupation. On 15 March 1939, the German Wehrmacht moved into the remainder of Czechoslovakia and, from Prague Castle, Hitler proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The occupation ended with the surrender of Germany following World War II.
Beneš and other Czechoslovak exiles in London organized a Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile and negotiated to obtain international recognition for the government and a renunciation of the Munich Agreement. The government was recognized by the government of the United Kingdom with the approval of Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax on 18 July 1940. In July and December 1941, the Soviet Union and United States also recognized the exiled government, respectively.
Czechoslovak military units fought alongside Allied forces. In December 1943, Beneš's government concluded a treaty with the Soviet Union. Beneš worked to bring Czechoslovak communist exiles in Britain into active cooperation with his government, offering far-reaching concessions, including nationalization of heavy industry and the creation of local people's committees at the war's end (which indeed occurred). In March 1945, he gave key cabinet positions to Czechoslovak communist exiles in Moscow.
The assassination of Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 by a group of British-trained Czech and Slovak commandos led by Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík led to reprisals, including the annihilation of the village of Lidice. All adult male inhabitants were executed, while females and children were transported to concentration camps. A similar fate met the village of Ležáky and later, at the end of war, Javoříčko.
On 8 May 1944, Beneš signed an agreement with Soviet leaders stipulating that Czechoslovak territory liberated by Soviet armies would be placed under Czechoslovak civilian control.
From 21 September 1944, Czechoslovakia was liberated by the Soviet troops of the Red Army, supported by Czech and Slovak resistance, from the east to the west; only southwestern Bohemia was liberated by other Allied troops (i.e., the U.S. Army) from the west. In May 1945, American forces liberated the city of Plzeň. A civilian uprising against the Nazi garrison took place in Prague in May 1945. The resistance was assisted by the heavily armed Russian Liberation Army, i.e., Gen. Vlasov's army, a force composed of Soviet POWs organized by the Germans who now turned against them.
The main brutality suffered in the lands of the pre-war Czechoslovakia came as an immediate result of the German occupation in the Protectorate, the widespread persecution of Jews, and, after the Slovak National Uprising in August 1944, repression in Slovakia. In spite of the oppressiveness of the government of the German Protectorate, Czechoslovakia did not suffer the degree of population loss that was witnessed during World War II in countries such as Poland and the Soviet Untion, and it avoided systematic destruction of its infrastructure. Bratislava was taken from the Germans on 4 April 1945, and Prague on 9 May 1945 by Soviet troops. Both Soviet and Allied troops were withdrawn in the same year.
A treaty ceding Carpatho-Ukraine to the Soviet Union was signed in June 1945 between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, following an apparently rigged Soviet-run referendum in Carpatho-Ukraine (Ruthenia). The Potsdam Agreement provided for the expulsion of Sudeten Germans to Germany under the supervision of the Allied Control Council. Decisions regarding the Hungarian minority reverted to the Czechoslovak government. In February 1946, the Hungarian government agreed that Czechoslovakia could expatriate as many Hungarians as there were Slovaks in Hungary wishing to return to Czechoslovakia.
The Third Republic (1945–1948)
The Communist Coup D'état (1948)
The Third Republic came into being in April 1945. Its government, installed at Košice on 4 April, then moved to Prague in May, was a National Front coalition in which three socialist parties—the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), the Czechoslovak Social democratic Party, and the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party—predominated. Certain non-socialist parties were included in the coalition, among them the Catholic People's Party (in Moravia) and the Democratic Party of Slovakia.
Following Nazi Germany's surrender, some 2.9 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia with Allied approval, their property and rights declared void by the Beneš decrees.
Czechoslovakia soon came to fall within the Soviet sphere of influence. The popular enthusiasm evoked by the Soviet armies of liberation (which was decided by compromise of Allies and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta conference in 1944) benefited the KSČ. Czechoslovaks, bitterly disappointed by the West at the Munich Agreement (1938), responded favorably to both the KSČ and the Soviet alliance. Reunited into one state after the war, the Czechs and Slovaks set national elections for the spring of 1946.
The democratic elements, led by President Edvard Beneš, hoped the Soviet Union would allow Czechoslovakia the freedom to choose its own form of government and aspired to a Czechoslovakia that would act as a bridge between East and West. Communists secured strong representation in the popularly elected National Committees, the new organs of local administration. In the May 1946 election, the KSČ won most of the popular vote in the Czech part of the bi-ethnic country (40.17%), and the more or less anti-Communist Democratic Party won in Slovakia (62%).
In sum, however, the KSČ only won a plurality of 38% of the vote at countrywide level. Edvard Beneš continued as president of the republic, whereas the Communist leader Klement Gottwald became prime minister. Most importantly, although the communists held only a minority of portfolios, they were able to gain control over most of the key ministries (Ministry of the Interior, etc.)
Although the communist-led government initially intended to participate in the Marshall Plan, it was forced by the Kremlin to back out. In 1947, Stalin summoned Gottwald to Moscow; upon his return to Prague, the KSČ demonstrated a significant radicalization of its tactics. On 20 February 1948, the twelve non-communist ministers resigned, in part to induce Beneš to call for early elections; however Beneš refused to accept the cabinet resignations and did not call elections. In the meantime, the KSČ marshalled its forces for the Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948. The communist-controlled Ministry of the Interior deployed police regiments to sensitive areas and equipped a workers' militia. On 25 February Beneš, perhaps fearing Soviet intervention, capitulated. He accepted the resignations of the dissident ministers and received a new cabinet list from Gottwald, thus completing the communist takeover under the cover of superficial legality.
On 10 March 1948, the moderate foreign minister of the government, Jan Masaryk, was found dead in suspicious circumstances that have still not been definitively proved to constitute either suicide or political assassination.
The Communist Occupation (1948–1989)
"Czechoslovak Socialist Republic"
- Unitary people's republic (1948–60)
- Unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist state (1960–69)
- Federal Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist state (1969–89)
Czechoslovakia (Czech/Slovak: Československo), officially the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Czech/Slovak: Československá socialistická republika, ČSSR), refers to the period of Czechoslovakia under communist rule from 11 July 1960 until following the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the name was changed on 23 April 1990. It has been regarded as a satellite state of the Soviet Union.
Following the coup d'état of February 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized power with the backing of the Soviet Union, the country was declared a people's republic after the Ninth-of-May Constitution became effective. The traditional name Československá republika (Czechoslovak Republic) was changed on 11 July 1960 following implementation of the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia as a symbol of the "final victory of socialism" in the country, and remained so until the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Several other state symbols were changed in 1960.
In February 1948, the Communists took power in the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état, and Edvard Beneš inaugurated a new cabinet led by Klement Gottwald. Czechoslovakia was declared a "people's REPUBLIC" (until 1960) – a preliminary step toward socialism and, ultimately, communism. Bureaucratic centralism under the direction of KSČ leadership was introduced. Dissident elements were purged from all levels of society, including the Roman Catholic Church. The ideological principles of Marxism-Leninism and socialist realism pervaded cultural and intellectual life.
The economy was committed to comprehensive central planning and the abolition of private ownership of capital. Czechoslovakia became a satellite state of the Soviet Union; it was a founding member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) in 1949 and of the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The attainment of Soviet-style command socialism became the government's avowed policy.
Slovak autonomy was constrained; the Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) was reunited with the KSČ (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia), but retained its own identity. Following the Soviet example, Czechoslovakia began emphasizing the rapid development of heavy industry. Although Czechoslovakia's industrial growth of 170% between 1948-1957 was impressive, it was far exceeded by that of Japan (300%) and the Federal Republic of Germany (almost 300%) and more than equaled by Austria and Greece.
Beneš refused to sign the Communist Constitution of 1948 (the Ninth-of-May Constitution) and resigned from the presidency; he was succeeded by Klement Gottwald. Gottwald died in March 1953. He was succeeded by Antonín Zápotocký as president and by Antonín Novotný as head of the KSČ.
In June 1953, thousands of workers in Plzeň went on strike to demonstrate against a currency reform that was considered a move to solidify Soviet socialism in Czechoslovakia. The demonstrations ended without significant bloodshed, disappointing American Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, who wished for a pretext to help the Czechoslovakian people resist the Soviets. For more than a decade thereafter, the Czechoslovak communist political structure was characterized by the orthodoxy of the leadership of party chief Antonín Novotný, who became president in 1957 when Zápotocký died.
In the 1950s, the Stalinists accused their opponents of "conspiracy against the people's democratic order" and "high treason" in order to oust them from positions of power. In all, the Communist Party tried 14 of its former leaders in November 1952 and sentenced 11 to death. Large-scale arrests of Communists and socialists with an "international" background, i.e., those with a wartime connection with the West, veterans of the Spanish Civil War, Jews, and Slovak "bourgeois nationalists," were followed by show trials. The outcome of these trials, serving the communist propaganda, was often known in advance and the penalties were extremely heavy, such as in the case of Milada Horáková, who was sentenced to death together with Jan Buchal, Záviš Kalandra and Oldřich Pecl.
The 1960 Constitution declared the victory of socialism and proclaimed the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR).
De-Stalinization had a late start in Czechoslovakia. In the early 1960s, the Czechoslovak economy became severely stagnant. The industrial growth rate was the lowest in Eastern Europe. As a result, in 1965, the party approved the New Economic Model, introducing free market elements into the economy. The KSČ "Theses" of December 1965 presented the party response to the call for political reform. Democratic centralism was redefined, placing a stronger emphasis on democracy. The leading role of the KSČ was reaffirmed, but limited. Slovaks pressed for federalization. On January 5, 1968, the KSČ Central Committee elected Alexander Dubček, a Slovak reformer, to replace Novotný as first secretary of the KSČ. On March 22, 1968, Novotný resigned from the presidency and was succeeded by General Ludvík Svoboda.
Air Battle over Merklín (1953)
The Air battle over Merklín was an air-to-air engagement between Czechoslovak and USAFE air units over the Czech village of Merklín, in the Bohemian Forest, on March 10, 1953. During the action Czech pilot Jaroslav Šrámek, flying a MiG-15, shot down one of a pair of American F-84E Thunderjets (from 53rd Fighter Bomber Squadron, 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing) which fell 35 kilometers inside the Czechoslovak territory. The American pilot, Lt. Warren G.Brown ejected from the aircraft, which crash-landed in German territory, approximately 35 kilometers (22 mi) from the border, and survived.
The Prague Spring (1968)
The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar) was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on January 5, 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and continued until August 21, 1968 when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to halt the reforms.
The Prague Spring reforms were a strong attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. After national discussion of dividing the country into a federation of three republics, Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia and Slovakia, Dubček oversaw the decision to split into two, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. This was the only formal change that survived the end of Prague Spring, though the relative success of the nonviolent resistance undoubtedly prefigured and facilitated the peaceful transition to a free republic with the collapse of Soviet hegemony in 1989.
The reforms, especially the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets, who, after failed negotiations, sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. A spirited non-violent resistance was mounted throughout the country, involving attempted fraternization, painting over and turning street signs (on one occasion an entire invasion force from Poland was routed back out of the country after a day's wandering), defiance of various curfews, etc. While the Soviet military had predicted that it would take four days to subdue the country the resistance held out for 8 months, and was only circumvented by diplomatic stratagems. On January 19, 1969, the student Jan Palach set himself on fire in Prague's Wenceslas Square to protest the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union, an action shocked many observers throughout the world. There were sporadic acts of violence and several suicides by self-immolation (such as that of Jan Palach), but there was no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained Soviet-controlled until 1989, when the Velvet Revolution ended pro-Soviet rule peacefully, undoubtedly drawing upon the successes of the non-violent resistance twenty years earlier. The resistance also became an iconic example of civilian-based defense, which, along with unarmed civilian peacekeeping constitute the two ways that nonviolence can be and occasionally has been applied directly to military or paramilitary threats.
After the invasion, Czechoslovakia entered a period known as "normalization": subsequent leaders attempted to restore the political and economic values that had prevailed before Dubček gained control of the KSČ. Gustáv Husák, who replaced Dubček and also became president, reversed almost all of Dubček's reforms. The Prague Spring inspired music and literature such as the work of Václav Havel, Karel Husa, Karel Kryl, and Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Final Years of the Communist Occupation
Although, in March 1987, Husák nominally committed Czechoslovakia to follow the program of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika, it did not happen much in reality. On December 17, 1987, Husák, who was one month away from his 75th birthday, had resigned as head of the KSČ. He retained, however, his post of president of Czechoslovakia and his full membership on the Presidium of the KSČ. Miloš Jakeš, who replaced Husák as first secretary of the KSČ, did not change anything. The slow pace of the Czechoslovak reform movement was an irritant to the Soviet leadership.
The first anti-Communist demonstration took place on March 25, 1988 in Bratislava (the Candle demonstration in Bratislava). It was an unauthorized peaceful gathering of some 2,000 (other sources 10,000) Roman Catholics. Demonstrations also occurred on: August 21, 1988 (the anniversary of the Soviet intervention in 1968) in Prague; on 28 October 1988 (establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918) in Prague, Bratislava and some other towns; in January 1989 (death of Jan Palach on January 16, 1969); on August 21, 1989; and on October 28, 1989.
Velvet Revolution (1989)
The anti-Communist revolution started on November 16, 1989 in Bratislava, with a demonstration of Slovak university students for freedom, and continued with the well-known similar demonstration of Czech students in Prague on November 17.
On November 17, 1989, the communist police violently broke up a peaceful anti-communist demonstration, brutally beating many student participants. In the following days, Charter 77 and other groups united to become the Civic Forum, an umbrella group championing bureaucratic reform and civil liberties. Its leader was the dissident playwright Václav Havel. Intentionally eschewing the label "party", a word given a negative connotation during the previous regime, Civic Forum quickly gained the support of millions of Czechs, as did its Slovak counterpart, Public Against Violence.
Faced with an overwhelming popular repudiation, the Communist Party all but collapsed. Its leaders, Husák and party chief Miloš Jakeš, resigned in December 1989, and Havel was elected President of Czechoslovakia on December 29. The astonishing quickness of these events was in part due to the unpopularity of the communist regime and changes in the policies of its Soviet guarantor as well as to the rapid, effective organization of these public initiatives into a viable opposition.
Czech and Slovak Federative Republic
After the fall of communism in 1989, Czechoslovakia adopted its official name Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (Czech/Slovak: Česká a Slovenská Federativní/Federatívna Republika, ČSFR) during the period from April 23, 1990 until December 31, 1992, when the country was dissolved into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. This period can be sometimes to be referred to as the Fourth Czechoslovak Republic.
Since 1960, Czechoslovakia's official name had been the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Československá socialistická republika, ČSSR). In the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution, newly elected President Václav Havel announced that "Socialist" would be dropped from the country's official name.
Conventional wisdom suggested that the country would resume the name used from 1919-1938 and from 1945-1960, Československá republika (Czechoslovak Republic). However, Slovak politicians objected that the traditional name subsumed Slovakia's equal status in the federal state too much. The first compromise was Constitutional Law 81/1990, which changed the country's name to Czechoslovak Federative Republic (Czech: ''Československá federativní republika, Slovak: Česko-slovenská federatívna republika), explicitly acknowledging the federal nature of the state. It was passed on March 29, 1990 (coming into force on the same day) only after an informal agreement on the Slovak form which would be explicitly codified by a future law on state symbols. This was met with general disapproval and another round of haggling, dubbed "the hyphen war" (pomlčková válka/vojna) after Slovaks' wish to insert a hyphen into the name (Česko-Slovensko). However, aggrieved Czechs vehemently opposed it as too reminiscent of such practice during the "Second Republic" (when the official name was "Czecho-Slovak Republic", which had also been used from 1918-1919) when the country had been mutilated by the Munich Agreement and was slipping toward its final dismemberment at the hands of Nazi Germany a year later. The resultant compromise, after much behind-the-scenes negotiation, was Constitutional Law 101/1990, passed on April 20, and in force since its declaration on April 23. The law changed the country's name to "Czech and Slovak Federative Republic"; unlike the previous one, it also explicitly listed both versions and stated they were equal.
The name breaks the rules of Czech and Slovak orthography, which do not use capitalization for proper names' second and further words, nor adjectives derived from them. Thus the correct form would be "Česká a slovenská federat... republika." However, "Česká a Slovenská F. R." was adopted in hopes of eliminating any debate about the prestige of Slovakia. While few people were happy with the name, it came into use quickly. Czech and Slovak tensions, of which this was an early sign, soon became manifest in matters of greater immediate importance which made the country's name a comparatively minor issue and at the same time even more impossible to change, so the name remained.
The 1960 Constitution remained in force on an interim basis. However, it was heavily amended to prune out its Communist character. Work on a permanent constitution was still underway at the time of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Note: There NEVER was a "democracy" in this area - it has rotated through many empires (monarchies, dual monarchies, and single-party states) plus many republics. Switzerland is a Constitutional Republic (with "elements" of democracy like public referendums), and East Germany was officially named the "Democratic REPUBLIC of Germany" (but it really means socialist - not democracy where everyone votes), but the most recent democracy to collapse in this area was Ancient Athens 1000 years ago.
A coalition government, in which the Communist Party had a minority of ministerial positions, was formed in December 1989. The first free elections in Czechoslovakia since 1946 took place in June 1990 without incident and with more than 95% of the population voting. As anticipated, Civic Forum and Public Against Violence won landslide victories in their respective republics and gained a comfortable majority in the federal parliament. The parliament undertook substantial steps toward securing the evolution of public voting in Czechoslovakia. It successfully moved toward fair local elections in November 1990, ensuring fundamental change at the county and town level.
Civic Forum found, however, that although it had successfully completed its primary objective (the overthrow of the communist regime) it was ineffectual as a governing party. The demise of Civic Forum was viewed by most as necessary and inevitable.
By the end of 1990, unofficial parliamentary "clubs" had evolved with distinct political agendas. Most influential was the Civic Democratic Party, headed by Václav Klaus. Other notable parties that came into being after the split were the Czech Social Democratic Party, Civic Movement, and Civic Democratic Alliance.
It may sound good to people who don't understand the difference between a monarchy (kingdom), an oligarchy (empire), a democracy, and a republic - but it's a matter of public record that the democrats in the USA have been advised by staunch communists (CFR / CPUSA) for over a century.
Dissolution of Czechoslovakia
By 1992, Slovak calls for greater autonomy effectively blocked the daily functioning of the federal government. In the election of June 1992, Klaus's Civic Democratic Party won handily in the Czech lands on a platform of economic reform. Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia emerged as the leading party in Slovakia, basing its appeal on fairness to Slovak demands for autonomy. Federalists, like Havel, were unable to contain the trend toward the split. In July 1992, President Havel resigned. In the latter half of 1992, Klaus and Mečiar hammered out an agreement that the two republics would go their separate ways by the end of the year.
Members of Czechoslovakia's parliament (the Federal Assembly), divided along national lines, barely cooperated enough to pass the law officially separating the two nations in late 1992. On January 1, 1993, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (Slovakia) were simultaneously and peacefully founded.
Relationships between the 2 states, despite occasional disputes about the division of federal property and the governing of the border, have been peaceful. Both states attained immediate recognition from the USA and their European neighbors.
At the time of the communist takeover, Czechoslovakia was devastated by WWII. Almost 1 million people, out of a prewar population of 15 million, had been killed. An additional 3 million Germans were expelled in 1946. In 1948, the government began to stress heavy industry over agricultural and consumer goods and services. Many basic industries and foreign trade, as well as domestic wholesale trade, had been nationalized before the communists took power. Nationalization of most of the retail trade was completed in 1950-1951.
Heavy industry received major economic support during the 1950s. Although the labor force was traditionally skilled and efficient, inadequate incentives for labor and management contributed to high labor turnover, low productivity, and poor product quality. Economic failures reached a critical stage in the 1960s, after which various reform measures were sought with no satisfactory results.
Hope for wide-ranging economic reform came with Alexander Dubcek's rise in January 1968. Despite renewed efforts, however, Czechoslovakia could not come to grips with inflationary forces, much less begin the immense task of correcting the economy's basic problems.
The economy saw growth during the 1970s but then stagnated between 1978-1982. Attempts at revitalizing it in the 1980s with management and worker incentive programs were largely unsuccessful. The economy grew after 1982, achieving an annual average output growth of more than 3% between 1983-1985. Imports from the West were curtailed, exports boosted, and hard currency debt reduced substantially. New investment was made in the electronic, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors, which were industry leaders in eastern Europe in the mid-1980s.
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